Time to Tell the Truth©

I always fancied myself to be a fairly honest person, or so I thought. However, my understanding of what it means to be honest was deeply flawed, primarily because I always thought of the need to be honest as being about someone else – I need to be honest with someone else. In fact, I learned that the more important truth telling is the truth that I tell myself, especially when it’s hard or potentially embarrassing.

Several years ago I started a business and three years later I was out of that business. For about five years whenever I was asked about that business I gave the same answer: “It didn’t turn out how I had planned.” While that was a version of the truth, it was not the deeper and more important truth – that the business had failed and that I had a major role in that failure.

It was not until a speech that I gave to a group of entrepreneurs in September of 2009 that I for the first time took responsibility for the failure of that business. Yes, I had lots of “stories” about the other things that had negatively impacted the business, all of which were verifiably true, but I had left out the most important player in that failure – me.

While all of the my “stories” were true, the biggest truth was that I was not ready to make that business succeed and I did not do what needed to be done to create that success. I let my ego get in the way and I took the attitude that people will just flock to me because I am amazing at what I do. Instead of asking what I needed to do to create success (and doing it), I asked questions like “Why wouldn’t someone hire me?” Instead of doing all of the little things that usually create big results, I sat around and waited for the phone to ring. I networked and met lots of people, but I never did the things that I needed to do to build the business. I was lost and I did not even know it.

With 20-20 hindsight I now see that I was creating my own self-fulfilling destiny of a man that was not good enough and not worthy of success. Perhaps I was lucky in the practice of law because it was a profession where I could be successful (mostly) by being good at what I did and because I had enough momentum from my large law firm career to continue that momentum on my own and with the new firm. In any event, three years later I was broken, battered and broke, so I picked up some familiar stories: you have to take care of your family, you have to be conservative and secure, you have to play it safe … and so I did.

For the next several years I had a job and worked for other people. I did what everyone told me to do and what culture seemed to reward … safe decisions. I was working to dig myself and my family out of the financial crater that existed, but it never seemed to be enough. I did my job well and I created some success, but I was never all in. I said I was all in, but I was working and living a life that was not my own. It was my rationalized life – my safe life – but it was not my authentic life. And yet the moment of awakening or push to waking up never came.

Today I am a transformed man who has woken up and who lives life purposefully and aware (growing more so every day), yet I cannot tell you why I did it or what motivated me to do it. I can point to key turning points such as my deepening connection to God and to things beyond myself. I can point to a transformational Mankind Project (www.mkp.org) retreat that I attended in May of 2010, but I cannot tell you what motivated me to attend.

I can point to the moment when I was starting to pursue my life’s passion of speaking and coaching, but only “on the side” while I had a full time job. I remember driving around in the month of January of 2009 and asking this question to God: Can I move into the life that I am meant to live when I am still living the life that I believe that I have to live (my steady job and income)? I knew of people that had made a smooth (i.e., safe) transition from an old job into a new job or business, but I felt this need to take off with my speaking and coaching, but I was tethered to my existing job. A couple of weeks later I got the answer when I was told by my employer that I was being laid off.

I remember that moment when I heard the words and my first thought was, there’s the answer to my question. I guess you could say that was a sign of sorts, but it certainly was not earth shattering. Perhaps some of us just wake up gradually and over time, without any great fanfare or notoriety. I actually believe that slow awakening experience is true for most of you.

I will talk more about my personal journey, awakening, and growing awareness in future articles, but for now let me leave you with this crystal clarity from my own experiences. DO NOT WAIT … until you are at the edge of the cliff, until you have crossed over from okay to depressed, until your most important relationships are in shambles, until you have determined that your life is not worth living … because you may already be there and not know it. This is why waking up is such an important initial step to changing your business and your life.

We can make changes (just as I did), but the changes will be superficial and will not have the positive impact we desire them to have. Think about it – if I am making decisions and choices while I am asleep in my life, how good or impactful can I expect them to be? While sleep is good for our bodies, minds, and spirits, living life asleep does not add value to your life. Yes, at times it seems easier, but is it? Yes, at times it might allow you to ignore or bury your pain and sadness, but only when you are awake can you face and move past those pains and that sadness.

While facing your fears and “stories” may seem daunting and frightening, I invite you to shift your perspective and instead see that in facing them you are able to move through and past them. While you may not be healed overnight, ignoring that which is holding you back is just that … ignoring … and it does not allow you to move forward. If you are asleep, you are doomed to stay in that state and your life will continue to be severely limited to that which an asleep person can possibly experience or achieve (which at best is mediocrity in all areas of our life).

Can you truly love deeply when you are asleep and playing it safe? Can you give fully for yourself, others and the community when you are focused on protecting yourself? Can you experience joy and passion when you are burying your sadness and doubts? Can you lead and create the impact you desire when you are asleep? There is a high price to pay for living your life asleep and, while there may be some potential short term costs to waking up (discomfort and fully experiencing that which we have been hiding from), an awakened life is a passionate, joyful and loving life. I encourage you not to wait for someone else to push you into your awakening or to wait for that lightning moment, but to instead move swiftly, purposefully, and courageously into the life that you were meant to live and the person that you were meant to be, which can only begin when you Wake Up!

Comments

  1. In addition to a wake-up call, your words provide a refreshing slap to the face.

  2. Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It’s the little
    changes that produce the greatest changes. Many thanks
    for sharing!

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